The International Truth and Justice Project (ITJP) welcomed the sanctions on Sri Lankan military officials for human rights violations which were announced by the US State Department earlier today.
“This isn’t just a visa ban against low level alleged perpetrators but a warning signal to their commanders, many of whom are still in positions of power, that they too are extremely vulnerable," Yasmin Sooka, ITJP's Executive Director said.
“Setting up presidential commissions to recommend dropping charges and issuing presidential pardons won’t safeguard the commanding officers, who still have a case to answer for gross violations of human rights,” she added.
Chandana Hettiarachchi, a Sri Lankan naval intelligence officer, involved in the ‘Trinco 11’ disappearances and Sunil Ratnayake, a soldier guilty of murdering at least 8 Tamils, are both now barred from entry to the US.
Speaking to ITJP, a relative of one of the 11 victims who was forcibly disappeared between 2008 and 2009 by the Sri Lankan Navy said:
“When we saw that all the charges were being dropped in the magistrate’s court in Sri Lanka, we gave up. I said to my family, what’s the point of carrying on asking for justice."
"But now the seed of hope is growing again in my heart and you are watering it with this news. We are really happy that the Americans could at least do this; it gives us a little strength and hope. When I saw Hettiarachchi’s name on the list, I took a deep breath," she added.
Read the full statement here.
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